Live Review by Rick Tilley / Photography by Beth Jones
I’ve not reviewed/covered a live event for a couple of years so I had real anticipation travelling to Leicester to cover Uprising 2017 for Ever Metal and Metal Gods TV. It’s always great to catch up with familiar faces, make new friends and of course watch some cracking music. Being a London boy I saw most of my gigs at Hammy Odeon, Marquee and The Astoria so I was also very much looking forward to seeing the iconic De Montfort Hall properly for the first time and it didn’t let me down, what a fabulous building inside and out with wonderful grounds! To get this venue has to be seen as a massive coup for organiser Simon Yarwood and his team and long may it continue! Considering this is only the second year the event has been held everyone was in for a treat!
After receiving our press passes it wasn’t long before the lovely Angel Merry of FATangel PR/Management turned up to show us around the Press area. This was the first time Angel had run the Press Office at an event and what a fabulous job she and her partner in crime, Chris Sams did. This was easily the best organised event I have covered. No egos, lots of great fun and banter, bands turning up for interviews on time, everyone being where they were supposed to be and no stress (well, no visible stress anyway) Everything ran like clockwork and that doesn’t just go for the Press area, the whole day was a veritable masterclass in how an event should be handled. My only regret was not being able to attend either “The Night Before” or ‘Aftermath” events at The Firebug on the Friday and Sunday but by all accounts they were run in exactly the same manner as the main day!
To get things started the first five bands on the main stage were competing in the Leicester Final of Metal 2 The Masses, with the winner getting the chance to play at Bloodstock Festival later in the year. All I can say is what a fantastic event this has become and organiser Simon Hall is another that deserves huge credit for all his hard work. I wasn’t able to catch all of the bands due to my interviewing schedule, but I did catch some of Fractions, Ubiquitous and eventual winners Blood Oath. To see these smaller bands have the opportunity to play the main stage at this venue was great for the crowd so I can only imagine what it felt like for the bands!
Progressive Metalcore band Fractions were hampered with a messy sound which somewhat muted my enjoyment, as I wasn’t familiar with their music but they put in a very energetic performance and I’m sure this experience will only make them better.
Blood Oath were, without doubt, absolutely superb. Describing themselves as ‘Groovy Death Metal’ is a perfect description of their music. They owned the cavernous stage and looked like a band way beyond their years. Judging by all the positive comments about them after their set they appeared to be well-deserved winners on the day and the Bloodstock audience need to make sure they check Blood Oath out!
Ubiquitous suffered a little following Blood Oath, especially as their music, which again I was unfamiliar with, was an extremely heavy mix of Black and Death Metal. They do however possess good stage presence and I have to give a full set of marks to their drummer ‘Typhoeus’ who was astonishingly precise.
As for My Legacy and, a band I really wanted to see, Mörti Viventi, I can only apologise for missing their sets. If I can find a way of growing a couple of clones then I’ll do my best to watch absolutely everything next time. However I heard both bands receiving good comments from around the venue!
With Metal 2 The Masses completed it was then the job of Resin to open the main stage proper! Resin are a very different prospect from when I last saw and interviewed them back in 2014. Now a six piece with a violinist their Grunge laden Hard Rock was a welcome change in styles from the M2TM bands and they really seem to have grown in stature. They had no problems looking completely the part on a big stage, vocalist/guitarist Dave Gandon looked very much at home and it’s always an absolute joy to see what shirt guitarist (and Uprising main man)Simon Yarwood is going to wear. They looked and sounded very professional and their most recent EP ‘Persecution Complex’ is well worth a listen!
After interviewing them earlier in the day we then went over to the wonderful small outside acoustic stage to watch three piece Heavy Rock band Pelugion. This was their first ever acoustic gig, not a bad way to start, and they were absolutely great. Playing a selection of their own material, such as the brilliant ‘Serpent’s Mistress’, the crowd were also treated to vocalist Andy Sweeney sing ‘Like A Stone’ as a tribute to Chris Cornell and he did it very well indeed. They are all lovely guys and I’m looking forward to seeing them again at some point to watch a full on electric set!
One of the beauties of Uprising is the huge variety of music on offer so our next port of call was over at the smaller, but no less impressive, second stage to watch doom merchants Witchsorrow and it can be summed up in one word ‘brilliant’. For a three piece their sound is absolutely thunderous and a joy to behold. They quite obviously enjoyed every single second up on stage and the assembled crowd lapped up every morsel! Easily one of my favourite bands of the day!
It was then back to the main stage to watch the fabulous Hærken. Death Metal, like all genres, can sometimes take itself a bit too seriously but you don’t have to worry about that with this band. I last saw them destroy the Sophie tent at Bloodstock and their performance at Uprising was no less impressive. If you want to be treated to a dose of Medieval, Gaelic infused & battle hardened Death Metal with full costumes, crests, shields and stage banter in Elizabethan English then Hærken will deliver. Played, sung and executed to perfection, their set was amazing, although next time I want even more bagpipes! I cannot wait until a new album is released!
At this point it was more interviews so the next band on the bill we were able to watch were the legends that are Lawnmower Deth. This is one band that NEVER fails to let anyone down. I’ve seen them a number of times over the years but they look as energetic and as happy as they always do. Hilarious and brutal in equal measures you will never watch an LD show and leave without a huge smile on your face. The antics and characters on stage are as bonkers as they are funny and the songs themselves are stupidly superb. You really cannot have a big event or Festival without Lawnmower Deth!
Still grinning we headed back to stage two to watch Kill II This. I was familiar with them from when they were together originally but had never seen them live before. They proved to be an extremely welcome addition to the line-up although they suffered with sound problems throughout their set. Vocalist Simon Gordon has an excellent voice and Mark Mynett’s guitar work is fabulous and I’m very much looking forward to seeing them again when they headline the Friday at the forthcoming SOS Festival. You should also check out their new track and video ‘Sleeper Cell’!
Straight back to the main stage I then got ready to witness one of the bands I had been most looking forward to see, Onslaught. I was lucky enough to be at London’s ‘The Marquee Club’ when Sy Keeler played his very first gig with Onslaught and that night is burned on my brain as being one of the greatest gigs I’ve ever witnessed. To see Onslaught still so hungry and brutal after all these years is incredible. As far as I’m concerned they are the vanguards of British Thrash Metal, Sy’s voice is in remarkable condition, Nige and Iain’s guitar work is razor sharp and the precision with which the band spat out the songs at Uprising made me feel like that young man of so many years ago all over again. They were also blessed with a crystal clear sound and were my band of the day. Utterly brilliant from start to finish they whipped the assembled crowd into a thrash frenzy and their set was over far too soon!
Another band I had never seen live before were Barb Wire Dolls so, as the bands were staggered so well, they were starting their set on the second stage as Onslaught finished. To be fair, what I had heard of them in the past hadn’t really floated my boat but a good crowd had filled the room to see them so it seemed the perfect chance to check them out and I was pleasantly surprised by their set. Rock N Roll with a Punk attitude, they come across much better in a live setting. They were great fun and there were smiles all round from band and crowd!
Reconvening to the acoustic stage, where the selection of stalls and laid back atmosphere made it feel like a proper outdoor festival, albeit on a smaller scale, and thanks to ‘The Motley Brew’ who delivered a cracking cup of much needed tea we chilled out and watched some of InMe’s Dave McPherson playing an acoustic set. I wasn’t that familiar with Dave’s material but what I saw was beautifully played and sung and perfect for headlining this particular stage, especially as the weather was so nice.
By the time main stage headliners Primordial hit the stage it was getting late and many people had already left or were leaving. We too had a lot to do and journey ahead so we didn’t stay for their complete set but what I saw was huge. They are another band I’ve struggled with in the past when listening to them on an album but they always seem to bring the goods in a live setting and this appearance was no exception!
There were other bands I wish I could have seen so to them I’m sorry for not mentioning everyone but in the past week on social media I’ve read much and I haven’t seen a bad word said about any performance!
To sum up then I have to say that Uprising 2017 was a big success. As already mentioned pretty much everything ran like clockwork and a majority of the bands were on and off stage at the correct times meaning you could actually watch a huge amount, if you were willing to. Of course with the stages being so close together it was hardly a trek but like any event people have their favourites and so the whole thing was very relaxed and the atmosphere really friendly. De Montfort Hall is very well laid out and spacious so the venue never felt over crowded at any point. Having the second and acoustic stages either side of the main stage was well thought out and the main stage itself was beautifully lit with comfortable seating upstairs if you were a bit achy and needed a break
If I’m being picky, and regular readers will know that I’m always a bit picky, then it would have been nice if the Merchandise and CD stalls out in the main foyer had taken bank cards, after all it is 2017 and other stalls were accepting cards or Paypal. With that in mind, perhaps it’s time for a venue like De Montfort to install a cash machine, it could easily be achieved! It’s also worth pointing out that whist there was ample parking in the adjacent carpark the ticket machines weren’t completely clear on informing people that daytime tickets being issued only lasted until 6pm. I’m not sure if anyone was caught out on the day but I would be interested to know if you were! Lastly, living with someone who is gluten intolerant and has to be pretty careful with what she eats, having someone on site that sells, even a small selection, of gluten, nut or dairy free products might be something that’s looked at for next year and beyond! I know it’s a case of supply and demand but nevertheless, some people do have allergies!
Other than those small things Uprising really is a great event and I look forward to seeing it grow year on year! Simon and his team, Angel, Chris and the Press Room, security, police, stall holders and all the De Montfort staff were superb and they should all be applauded because every one of them added to the whole experience. Well done everyone and I’ll see you all again next year!